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It doesn’t feel like Christmas.

It feels weird. The sun is shining and the temperature is in the 40’s. I think maybe that was the universe’s gift to me – a way to make it not feel so Christmas-y so that it would be a little easier to deal with my first Christmas without MoC. It’s never been my favorite holiday, but it was always her favorite. So I wore my Santa hat to work on Friday to make myself feel better. It worked, sort of.

Every day I think of something to tell her, some news piece, something at work, a television show, a song, a commercial, a stray cat. And every day I remember that I can’t. That makes this season especially bittersweet … because now that my mother isn’t here, I seem to have finally figured out what it was supposed to be about. When I was a kid, it was about presents. As I got a little older, it was about time off school. And when I was on my own, it was a chore because it didn’t really mean anything to me. It was a duty. I would give just about anything to have some of those years back.

Someone wrote a post about Christmas a few days ago. It was about how he didn’t like it, he thought the gifts were stupid because they just highlighted how his family didn’t know him. I was cool with all of that, even though I didn’t really agree with it. Then he said he asked his mother to return any gifts she had already bought him. And that pissed me off. I don’t know him. I don’t know his mother. I won’t link his blog here. But when I read that sentence my head spun 360 degrees. I left a comment that included the word “asshole.” Because I know that 98% of the time, people try. They try to do the right thing, buy the right gift, try to make someone happy. Even if the rest of the year that person is a complete fuck, that one day, they try to be thoughtful.

All I could think about was last Christmas. My brother and I celebrated with  my mother in the nursing home. It kind of sucked. But we were there. We made the best of it. We wore silly Santa hats and gave my mom presents and hung out and laughed and tried not to think about anything else.

We never know when it’s the last Christmas. Or the last birthday. Or just the last day. I really don’t have any regrets about any of that. MoC knew me. She knew who I am and who I was and now she probably knows who I will be. The most treasured gift she ever gave me was the gift of laughter. We had a lot of that. We had a lot of strife, too. We fought. We didn’t always get along. I didn’t always appreciate her. And she didn’t always know me.

One of my friends told me that I seemed relieved after MoC died. Then she frantically tried to explain what she meant. But I knew what she meant. I was relieved, in a way. I worried about MoC 24/7 for 13 months. Not just the “Gee, I hope she’s okay” kind of worry. The over-the-top, stomach rolling, hands clenched, praying to God every second kind of worry.

I have to believe MoC is relieved, too, and that she is in a better place. It makes me feel better. I don’t understand how atheists get through things like this, believing that this life is all there is and that when it’s over, it’s just over. Maybe that makes me intellectually deficient. Fuck that. Is it my imagination that I’ve felt her around me recently? I mean I literally felt her presence.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I just know that writing helps me figure things out.

So … Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah.  Happy holidays. May you be surrounded by those you love, in whatever way possible, and may you find comfort in the love and safety of your family, even if they give you stupid gifts. Even if they don’t understand you. Because that’s all we’ve got.